Collage of images with a building at a botanical garden, a dancer, a man biking with his dog and steps along a hiking trail.
(Los Angeles Times photo collage; photos by Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times; Calvin Alagot / Los Angeles Times; Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times; Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times; Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times; Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

24 superb things to do around L.A. to kick off the summer of 2024

Contrary to popular belief in other corners of the United States, we do have seasons in Southern California, and it’s easy to tell them apart.

Summer is the one that always ends too soon.

So you need a plan. Here are 24 ideas to help squeeze maximum fun from the 94 days of summer in 2024. They are varied — outdoorsy and indoorsy, free and pricey, old and new. But they’re all in L.A. or within easy day-trip or weekend reach.

Planning your weekend?

Stay up to date on the best things to do, see and eat in L.A.

As author and former Times columnist Chris Erskine once said, “Summer makes California seem like a good idea.”

And if you’d rather roam beyond Southern California this summer, here are 101 ideas from Baja to British Columbia.

Showing  Places
A woman hula hoops at a park in the late-afternoon sun.
(Calvin Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

Sip wine while the sun sets at Barnsdall Art Park

East Hollywood Park
Barnsdall Art Park, in East Hollywood at the edge of Los Feliz, has been home since 1921 to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. But there’s more than that to the park, including an art gallery, a theater, classes, a hillside olive grove and (here it comes) Friday night wine-tasting alfresco.

Every Friday from May 31 through Aug. 30, the park’s West Lawn will become a venue for wine tasters and their friends from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Views from the hilltop lawn include the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Observatory. Adults only, no pets. Tickets are $47.75 for those drinking and $16.25 for designated drivers.

The wines are curated and poured by Silverlake Wine, usually accompanied by a few food trucks.

BTW: A limited number of Hollyhock House indoor tours are available for an added $26.25 each.
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A worker hoses off swan boats at Echo Park Lake.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Paddle a swan boat in Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Experience
On warm days, it’s hard to beat a ride on the swan boats at Echo Park. They’re powered by foot paddles, and the pedaling is easy because you’re in no hurry. Maybe you’ll want to do a circuit of the lake (really a man-made reservoir). Maybe you’ll sidle up to the towers of whitewater rising from the mid-lake fountain. Maybe you’ll wait until after dark (because the swans light up).

The boats are managed by Wheel Fun Rentals. Hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Sept. 2. Rentals are $12 hourly per adult, $7 for those under age 18. Reservations required. The small boats can seat two adults and two children under age 10.

The large boats can seat up to five people. Hand-crank pedal boats also are available. Alas, the Boathouse Bistro, which had a city concession to sell food and drinks right next to the swan operation, shut down in late 2023. The city is seeking a new tenant for the space.

BTW: Although there’s a public lot at 1149 Echo Park Ave., it often fills and you may end up seeking street parking. Try Laguna Avenue, just east of Echo Park Avenue. As in many areas of the city, you may see tents belonging to unhoused people, but not nearly as many as surrounded the lake in 2020-21. In March 2021, city officials temporarily closed the park, removed the homeless encampment and arrested more than 180 protesters.
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The Natural History Museum is seen rising above the Exposition Park Rose Garden.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Soak up science, history, nature and culture in Exposition Park

Los Angeles County Park
Think of this USC-adjacent compound as a 160-acre sampler, with all the culture, science, beauty and sports you can absorb in the space of a few hours. Start with the California Science Center and its kid-captivating displays, this summer including “Leonardo da Vinci: Inventor. Artist. Dreamer. “ (through Sept. 2). (Note: The Space Shuttle Endeavour is not on display, in anticipation of a move). A few steps away stands the California African American Museum, which wins praise for thoughtful, lively shows. There’s also the diorama-rich Natural History Museum of L.A. County and the neighboring Rose Garden.

Sports? Well, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted summer Olympics in 1932, 1984 and will do so again in 2028. The soccer-specific BMO Stadium, opened in 2018, is home turf to the Los Angeles and Angel City football clubs.

BTW: If you go, you’ll see a big construction project. That’s the 11-acre Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, an institution to be focused on the history of visual storytelling, co-founded by writer, director and producer George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, scheduled to open in 2025.
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Visitors sitting and eating at the Original Farmers Market
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Nosh and schmooze at L.A.'s Original Farmers Market

Los Angeles County Farmers' market
The Original Farmers Market, founded in 1934, is old-school Los Angeles, a place that holds its charm through daily tides of tourists from all over. It features more than 100 eateries, markets and shops and just as many screenwriters schmoozing on its patios, or so it seems some days.

Hungry? For all things French, try Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market. For tacos, Trejo’s. And for pie, Du-par’s (since 1938) is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays (otherwise, it opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m.) To adjust the vibe from 20th century to 21st, meander next door to the Grove, the upscale mall that opened in 2002 with about a dozen restaurants, 14 movie screens, a dancing fountain and occasional live music.

BTW: For more old/new contrasts, wander among the teen-seeking streetwear shops on Fairfax Avenue between Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue — the Hundreds and Solestage, for instance — then alight for a snack at Canter’s, the venerated Jewish deli that has stood on Fairfax since 1953 (and in Boyle Heights before that).
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Griffith Observatory, lighted at night, with the downtown Los Angeles skyline beyond.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Behold the universe, or the skyline, from Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles County Attraction
Without ever stepping inside the observatory on its perch in the Hollywood Hills, you can see Los Angeles as a tidy, twinkling grid of city lights, an epic view at dawn or sunset. From inside, you can scan distant stars and check your weight on Mars.

Since 1935, Angelenos have embraced Griffith Observatory as “the hood ornament of Los Angeles,” in the words of observatory director E.C. Krupp. It’s the architectural star of 4,210-acre Griffith Park, with three green copper domes, prime views of the Hollywood sign and a bust of James Dean, who sulked here in the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Parking is rare and pricey ($10 per hour), so you might want to hike up from the Greek Theatre or Fern Dell or see about Dash shuttle bus service from Vermont or Hillhurst avenues or the Sunset-Vermont Metro stop.

Besides its public telescope and shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium (32 to 35 minutes each; $6 to $10 per person), the observatory offers an array of free indoors exhibits, plus presentations in its Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. When hunger calls, the Café at the End of the Universe awaits (with some of the city’s best balcony views). The observatory is closed on Mondays.

BTW: Hike from the observatory to the Tom LaBonge Panorama atop Mt. Hollywood, a roughly 2.6-mile journey with big views of the Hollywood Hills and the San Fernando Valley. And be sure to read up on the felon-philanthropist who made this all possible, Griffith J. Griffith.
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A man enjoying riding a horse on this shady equestrian trail in Griffith Park.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Roam the Hollywood Hills on horseback

Hollywood Hills Experience
It’s easy to think of L.A. geography in terms of driving and walking. Climbing onto a horse and roaming the Hollywood Hills changes that. It also allows you to imagine you’re starring in your own 21st century western.

One popular starting point for guided trail rides is Sunset Ranch Hollywood, a western throwback at the end of Beachwood Drive on the edge of Griffith Park. It’s more or less beneath the Hollywood sign. Since 1929, the ranch has given Angelenos and visitors a chance to ride horses in the hills. If you go at sunset in the right weather, distinctions between the open range and the traffic-choked city are blurred in golden haze.

The hourlong Mulholland Trail Tour ($75 to $100 per person) takes you, your group and your guide near the Hollywood sign, with broad views of the L.A. basin. The two-hour Mt. Hollywood Trail tour ($125 to $150) takes you to the top of Mt. Hollywood (Elevation: 1,625 feet) for a 360-degree of the basin and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. The two-hour Mt. Hollywood Trail Evening Tour (starts at $175) gives you the same scenery at sunset and dusk with a million twinkling city lights.

BTW: There’s more than one horseback outfit taking guests on trails of Griffith Park. Another option is L.A. Horse Rentals, whose headquarters is on Riverside Drive in Glendale.
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Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Wander Descanso Gardens

La Cañada Flintridge Public garden
Think of Descanso Gardens as part chameleon, part sanctuary. Walking through its towering oak woodlands and ancient forest is kind of a religious experience — silent, awe-inspiring and very intimate. But then there are the flower gardens, starting with five acres of roses — more than 1,600 varieties — and a Japanese Garden with a tea house and delicate blooms from cherry and plum trees and other plantings native to Asia. There are also the California Garden designed by native plant advocate Theodore Payne, masses of blooming tulips in the spring and one of the country’s largest collections of camellias, blooming best in January and February, when most flowers are resting.

Descanso’s Sturt Haaga Gallery has rotating exhibits throughout the year, and the gardens often host original compositions and performances, sometimes with music piped through the trees. The 150-acre garden, which is owned by L.A. County, also hosts popular seasonal events such as the Halloween-season Carved, featuring hundreds of pumpkins intricately carved by artists, and the annual holiday light show Enchanted. Visit often to check out the changing gardens because there’s always something blooming at Descanso. This is a garden you can visit according to your mood. Whether you’re feeling reflective or joyous, it will always be uplifting.

Admission is $15, $11 for seniors 65 and over and students with ID, $5 for children ages 5 to 12; members and children under 5 enter free. Annual memberships start at $70 for individuals and $99 for families. The gardens are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Dec. 25. Members can enter at 8 a.m.

BTW: Food can be purchased on-site daily at the Kitchen at Descanso from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No pets permitted except trained service dogs.
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See free Shakespeare in Griffith Park

Griffith Park Live Theater Group
The Independent Shakespeare Company stages this annual celebration of the Bard on a grassy dell in Griffith Park near the top of the Old Zoo area.

This year’s marquee attraction is “As You Like It,” running July 10-Sept. 1. Shows are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The company passes the hat (a bucket, actually) to collect donations, but they’re voluntary — it’s a free show. Just register in advance through the company’s website.

In this summer’s location — chosen to make room for construction of a long-awaited outdoor stage nearby — there’s room for about 750 people in the audience. If construction goes as planned, Independent Shakespeare Co. spokeswoman Marisa Johnston said, summer 2025’s shows could take place on the new stage.

The Independent Shakespeare troupe began its L.A. life in 2003, staging shows in Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood. After several years of growth, the company moved to Griffith Park in 2010.

BTW: Apart from its productions, the troupe offers acting classes at its 65-seat studio venue in Atwater Village.
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Hollywood Bowl at night
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Listen under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles County Venue
The Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has been hosting performances since the early 1920s — before the Hollywood sign went up. Picnicking before and during shows there has become a treasured civic tradition in a city that could use more.

Summer 2024 will include a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, Broadway, opera, film-score music and classical. Besides the L.A. Philharmonic, performers include Vampire Weekend; Chris Stapleton; the Roots; Harry Connick Jr.; John Williams; Ballet Folklorico de Mexico; Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan (on July 31); Pink Martini; and Trombone Shorty.

Another change for this summer: fewer on-site parking spots, because the Bowl’s Lot C has been recast as a hub for rideshare vehicles. (The Bowl’s transportation program includes shuttle service to carry public transit users between the venue and the Hollywood-Highland Metro station and several park and ride lots.)

BTW: Yes, you’re allowed to bring your own food and drink to shows. You’re allowed to bring beer or wine to some shows but not others. Read up in advance.
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Jellyfish swimming in an aquarium tank
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

See creatures in the Aquarium of the Pacific

Long Beach Aquarium
Although the aquarium teems with all manner of marine life, the undisputed star attractions here are the many and varied species of sea jellies that float about like living lava lamps. There are tanks full of pale-blue blubber jellies swirling about like animated mushrooms. You’ll also see smacks (yes, that’s the word for a group of them) of bell-shaped warty comb jellies twinkling like Christmas lights; majestic-looking, tentacle-trailing Pacific sea nettles; and fringed Frisbee-like moon jellies fluttering like gelatinous pie tins.

Although the aquarium is open every day of the year (except for Christmas Day), it’s worth paying a visit on a weekend between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. so you can pop by the Moon Jelly Touch Lab on the Harbor Terrace and hand-feed some of the Aurelia labiata yourself. Buy a condiment cup or two of brine shrimp (one for $3, two for $5; I highly recommend the latter), pour it into the water next to a jelly and watch tiny pink blobs appear inside its translucent bell, indicating its stomachs are filling with lunch. At this point, you should take the opportunity to reach out and lightly touch the moon jelly’s bell (you won’t get stung — its venom is too weak for humans to feel) so you can tell all your friends about that time you petted a jellyfish.

Admission is $44.95 for adults, $29.95 for children ages 3-11, advance reservation required.

BTW: Last year, the aquarium unveiled a “rethemed” Southern California Gallery that includes the California two-spot octopus, leopard and horn sharks, California scorpionfish, a moray eel, California spiny lobsters, Catalina goby and the state marine fish — the Garibaldi.
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Aerial view of Catalina Island's Avalon harbor.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Try the island life on Catalina

Los Angeles County Attraction
When you need an island escape and Hawaii is too far, this is your easiest answer. The ferry ride is about an hour (about 22 miles) and you may encounter playful dolphins on the way. In tiny downtown Avalon (population about 3,300), traffic is a matter of bikes and golf carts. Back in the day, Zane Grey wrote westerns here and chewing gum potentate William Wrigley Jr. built a mansion (Mt Ada, now a boutique hotel with overnight rates often surpassing $900). Nowadays, there are just enough options to fill a weekend: submarine tours, snorkeling, miniature golf, cycling, Descanso Beach Club and the Catalina Zipline Eco Tour, which will set you zinging above eucalyptus trees.

Round-trip ferry rides for adults with Catalina Express to Avalon from Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point cost $92 to $96.

BTW: You’ll see the island’s more rugged side if you catch a boat to Two Harbors, the island’s narrowest point. Poised between the two harbors, you’ll find one or two restaurants (depending on how you count), a general store, several nearby campgrounds and the hillside Banning House Lodge, whose 12 rooms have startling views. Several hiking trails lead into the hills from Two Harbors, and it’s where the 38.5-mile, four-day hiker’s ordeal/adventure known as the Trans-Catalina Trail comes to an end.
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A crowd on the lawn at dusk at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Catch a movie, concert or yoga session in Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Los Angeles County Attraction
This movie studio-adjacent graveyard combines film screenings and other pop culture programming — including popular Día de los Muertos presentations — with a long roster of show business grave sites.

Mel Blanc, Cecil B. DeMille, Judy Garland, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, Rudolph Valentino, Burt Reynolds and many others either repose here or are celebrated with cenotaphs. (Toto, of “The Wizard of Oz,” has a cenotaph.) As it turns out, you can stretch out here — at a yoga class. (They’re offered every morning and on Monday evenings; pay by donation.)

The yoga classes typically happen on the venue’s Fairbanks Lawn, as do Hollywood Forever’s perennially popular Saturday night summer Cinespia movie screenings. Comedy shows and concerts are also offered in Hollywood Forever’s on-site Masonic Lodge.

BTW: The cemetery’s Day of the Dead celebrationa spectacle for more than 20 years, usually featuring costumed visitors and altars honoring the dead — always happens on the last Saturday before Nov. 2.
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The Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Wander inside and outside the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

San Marino Public garden
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is the grand dame of Southern California botanic gardens. (It’s as large and formidable as its name.) This is a place for extensive research in its libraries or art gazing in the museum, where visitors can see L.A. native Kehinde Wiley’s riveting “A Portrait of a Young Gentleman” and its inspiration, Thomas Gainsborough’s iconic 18th century painting “The Blue Boy.” Through Nov. 30, 2025, the gallery will display an art installation by Betye Saar titled “Drifting Toward Twilight.” It includes a 17-foot canoe and many objects collected by Saar from the Huntington’s grounds.)

If you go, plan a day devoted to just wandering the Huntington’s 130-acre gardens, a sprawling collection of extraordinary roses, authentic Chinese and Japanese gardens and areas dedicated to Australian plants, Shakespearean plants, herbs, desert plants, jungle and subtropical plants (you can almost hear Tarzan bellowing somewhere in those towering, vine-dripping trees) and, of course, a whimsical garden to enchant children.

The food options are varied and very good. The Rose Garden Tea Room (reservations recommended) offers a traditional tea service with scones and Devonshire cream for $62. The Jade Court Cafe in the Chinese Garden offers a range of cuisine, plus beer and wine. There’s also the 1919 Cafe near the entrance; the Red Car coffee shop and the Freshwater Pavilion for grab-and-go drinks and snacks.

The Huntington is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. Closed July 4, Thanksgiving, Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1. Timed-entry reservations required Friday-Sunday, recommended on other days.

Admission prices start at $25 weekdays and $29 on weekends; slightly lower fees for seniors, students and children. Members and children under age 4 enter free. Note that the Huntington’s free days — the first Thursday of every month — require advance reservations made the week prior, and spots fill up quickly. Members are not permitted on free days. Annual memberships start at $175.

BTW: If you want a free-day ticket (the first Thursday of every month), you’ll need to be strategic, ready to jump on a reservation at 9 a.m. the Thursday before. Due to the huge demand, people are assigned a random number after they enter the online waiting room for free tickets. If your number is selected, you can receive up to five tickets per household (babies also need tickets on free days).
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In-N-Out sign in Baldwin Park
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Journey to the beefy center of the In-N-Out Burger universe

Los Angeles County Fast food
For certain carnivorous Californians, a visit to this burger chain is like church, but with more flexible hours. At the flagship location in Baldwin Park, you can drive through, as most customers do. But you can also eat inside, then browse mountains of merch at the company store and perhaps matriculate at In-N-Out University, where managers train.

If you’re selfie-hungry, you’ll head to the nearby replica of the chain’s first tiny, red-and-white burger shack, open for photo ops from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at 13752 Francisquito Ave. in Baldwin Park.

Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first In-N-Out burger shack in 1948, which put them among the first to try a drive-through restaurant. To taste what the fuss is all about, order a “double-double, animal-style” — a double cheeseburger with the works, basically — which has fueled the company’s growth to more than 400 outlets in eight Western states.

BTW: The In-N-Out chain is owned by its founders’ granddaughter, Lynsi Snyder, whose causes include the In-N-Out Burger Foundation (which aims to help abused and neglected children) and the Slave 2 Nothing Foundation (which strives to free “those who are enslaved by any person or substance”).
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Bluffs rise over Jalama Beach County Park, near Lompoc.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Hide out in remote Jalama Beach County Park

Jalama Beach is in the middle of nowhere. More specifically, it’s at the end of a gorgeous 14-mile country road that veers west from Highway 1, which splits off from U.S. 101 at the Gaviota Pass near Lompoc in Santa Barbara County.

At the end of Jalama Road, you find a 107-site campground on a windswept beach with seven rentable cabins. You’ll also find the Jalama Beach Store, whose Jalama Burgers are, if you ask me, one of Santa Barbara County’s principal assets.

The secret sauce in the burgers was created in the late 1970s by the late Kathy Eittreim, whose widower, Don Eittreim, 89, still presides over the store with support from daughter Linda Eittreim.

“It was tough for a couple of years. No volume. We dipped into savings,” Don Eittreim recalled recently. “We didn’t have the campers in the winter months. Now we do.”

Windsurfers, tent campers and TV people all come to this beach, which is as remote as Santa Monica is busy.

The store is open daily. A Jalama Burger is $11.45. A rustic dining room looks out to the water.

BTW: The menu also includes salmon burgers, clam chowder and corn dogs.
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Pedestrians head toward the entrance to Malibu Pier.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Stroll, dine or fish on the Malibu Pier

Los Angeles County Attraction
This is about as genteel as a pier can get while still selling bait.

With no Ferris wheel or thrill rides and a 9 p.m. closing time, Malibu Pier, built in 1905, offers sea views, skatewear, souvenirs, rental fishing rods and upscale dining.

Malibu Farm Restaurant sits at the base of the pier with a dining room, patio and table service ( 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends). At the ocean end of the pier, the more casual Malibu Farm Cafe (order at the counter) opens at 9 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. on weekends, serving breakfast and lunch most days, staying open until 6 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

BTW: You can fish here without a permit. In summer, in theory, you might catch halibut, thresher shark, bat rays, corbina or mackerel.
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The colorful entrance to the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters.
(Christopher Allwine)

Take in the scene at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach

Orange County Performance
The good people of Laguna Beach have a weakness for the arts, as evidenced by the many galleries downtown, the Sawdust Art Festival (June 28-Sept. 1) and the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show (July 3-Aug. 30). But for sheer strangeness and spectacle, those can’t match the eccentric tradition that is the Pageant of the Masters.

On an outdoor stage with live narration and orchestral accompaniment, models pose amid immaculate sets to mimic famous artworks new and old. The fancy phrase for this is tableaux vivants (living pictures).

The shows last about 90 minutes. Sometimes there are singers, dancers, horses, balloons — and it might cost you anywhere from $45 to $280 (including “ticket fees”) for a seat. Tickets also give you access to the Festival of Arts Fine Arts Show.

The Pageant of the Masters has its roots in 1932, when area artists were looking for a spectacle to lure Olympics visitors from Los Angeles. It has evolved into a strangely potent, family-friendly night of entertainment in a 2,600-seat amphitheater.

The 2024 pageant, which runs nightly July 6-Aug. 30, carries the theme “À La Mode: The Art of Fashion.” No children under age 4 are allowed.

BTW: Parking in Laguna Beach is a challenge, and the pageant has no adjacent lot. Expect to do some walking or waiting for a shuttle.
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A woman having her picture taken at Paradise Cove Beach.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Look for Gidget and eat on the beach at Paradise Cove

Malibu Restaurant
For an L.A. beach experience that’s more Gidget and less Gucci, think about Paradise Cove, eight miles west of the Malibu Pier.

The cove isn’t cheap, but it’s just about ideal for entertaining out-of-towners. The Paradise operation includes a sequestered beach with a lively cafe (breakfast lunch and dinner; Dungeness crab cakes $29.95), beach-gear rentals, lifeguards, reclining seats on the sand and servers fetching burgers and rum drinks. Yes, you can swim. Yes, you can rent a pair of chaise longues and an umbrella for the day (but it will cost you $150).

Also, if you have an out-of-towner along, be sure to point out the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park next door, where two-bedroom units are often priced at $2 million. If your out-of-towners remember any ‘70s television, remind them that this is where Jim Rockford lived.

BTW: Be sure to spend more than $30 in the restaurant and less than four hours at the cove, however. Otherwise, your $10 to $15 tab for parking will inflate to $45 to $65.
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The Rose Bowl Flea Market is a vast marketplace of vintage goods, antiques and work by local artisans.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Hunt down a bargain at the Rose Bowl Flea Market

Los Angeles County Flea Market
The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena happens only 12 times a year — the second Sunday of every month. And it’s a vast production, sometimes drawing as many as 2,500 vendors and 20,000 buyers and browsers.

One Sunday, I found Fiesta ware, siesta wear, disco balls, antique awls, molas, colas, Elvis on velvet, Buddha on a pedestal, Jesus on a cross, Jell-O molds, foam fingers, maps, caps, stones, phones, pliers, fliers, carpenters’ tools, costume jewels, two old seats from the L.A. Coliseum and a hot dog for $2.

There are designated areas for new merchandise, arts and crafts, antiques and vintage items. For summer 2024, the dates are July 14, Aug. 11 and Sept. 8.

It’s $12 per person for general admission buyers (who can enter as soon as 9 a.m.) or $20 for VIP buyers (who get in as soon as 5 a.m.). No pets. The early birds will need to be careful because it will still be dark and vendors may still be moving vehicles. The most convenient parking costs $20; if you’re willing to walk farther, there is free parking.

BTW: The outfit that runs the Rose Bowl Flea Market, R.G. Canning Attractions, also runs the Beaumont Outdoor Market in Riverside County (every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, with some holiday exceptions; 50 cents to enter, free parking).
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A man bikes with a dog in his backpack along a beach.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Pedal and glide from the Palisades to Redondo

Pacific Palisades Bike Path
The Strand runs for 22 miles, mostly along the shoreline of Santa Monica Bay, and is arguably L.A.’s most popular bike path. And for good reason: It leads past piers, crowds of beachgoers on busy days, marine creatures (including surfers) and sailboats. On a clear day, you might even see Catalina Island in the distance. Or a movie star or two riding their bikes. (I swear I saw actor Tim Robbins riding a beach cruiser on one outing.)

Also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, it starts at Will Rogers State Beach in the north and continues all the way to Torrance Beach while passing through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. (Be prepared for possible detours as maintenance crews repair damage from the rains of winter and spring.)

BTW: If you’re a fan of bulging biceps and rippling six-packs, check out Muscle Beach in Venice, once the hangout of bodybuilders Lou Ferrigno and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And don’t forget to take a moment to admire Santa Monica’s pier, where you can ride the Ferris wheel, take a spin on a nearly century-old carousel, go fishing off the western end or cool off with a snow cone.
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The steep Santa Monica Stairs
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Take steps (976 of them) on the Santa Monica Canyon — Rustic Canyon Loop

Pacific Palisades Urban Trail
3.0-mile loop
I love, love, love this three-mile loop walk, even though it took me past a parade of hard bodies charging up and down Santa Monica’s infamous 4th Street Stairs multiple times before I could huff and puff my way to the top just once.

So yes, expect some labored breathing as you walk the Santa Monica Canyon — Rustic Canyon Loop. But it also takes you through some serene and majestically green neighborhoods, great ocean views and — quite unexpectedly — a tiny stream during our dry-as-dust summer. There are lots of stairs — at 976 steps, it’s one of the most stair-intensive — but the sights are so transporting it’s easy to forget you’re near a city center, and that makes all the effort worthwhile.

You can find detailed directions here, along with 15 additional stair-walk ideas.

BTW: On your way, at 4th Street and Adelaide Drive, you’ll find truly breathtaking views of the ocean, Rustic Canyon and many gorgeous homes, with plaintive signs asking people to please refrain from doing calisthenics in view of their windows.
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A colorful tropical drink at the Tiki-Ti.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Order something tropical at the Tiki-Ti

Los Feliz Bar
It’s always a tropical summer night in the Tiki-Ti.

The place dates to 1961, when veteran barkeep Ray Buhen took over his father-in-law’s violin shop and starting mixing rum drinks and hanging blowfish from the ceiling.

Buhen, who came to California from the Philippines in 1930, had worked more than 20 years in tropical bars throughout Southern California and his place prospered as others faded.

Now the Tiki-Ti, all 12 stools and five tables of it, is run by Ray’s son and grandson, Mike Buhen and Mike Buhen Jr., respectively. Tropical doodads everywhere. Gentle island music. Plenty of regulars and easy banter. No beer, no wine, just a list of about 90 stiff tropical drinks ($15 to $20), often in colors more lurid than a drag queen’s tube top.

Most popular drink: Ray’s Mistake, invented by the bar’s founder in 1968. It involves passion fruit, lime, gin, dark Jamaican rum and “our secret flavoring which has a hint of vanilla.”

The Tiki-Ti, whose hours have gotten shorter over the years, is open 6 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays. Last call: 11:20 p.m.

BTW: If you arrive on a Wednesday, be ready at 9 p.m. for the weekly Tiki-Ti toast to Ray.
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People work at tables on a patio overlooking a canyon.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Eat amid Topanga trees at Cafe on 27

Topanga Restaurant
There’s almost no patio more picturesque in all of Los Angeles. Cafe on 27 is spread across multiple levels on a cliffside, under verdant trees, and its views can’t be beat.

This, of course, is far from a secret — especially on weekends, when wait times run long and cars line the boulevard for parking, their occupants hoping for meals and a few photos. Posing for social media is de rigueur at this American restaurant and cafe, which features almost entirely outdoor seating and dishes such as churro chai pancakes, avocado toasts, vegan club sandwiches, brunchy kofta tagines, steak sandwiches and cauliflower pizza.

BTW: A tandem shop, called what else but Shop on 27, sells incense, hats, jewelry and other trinkets should you want a souvenir from the visit.
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Two women stand among a crowd of people sharing food from a paper plate.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Eat freely at 626 Night Market

Los Angeles County Food Market
There’s no telling what you’ll end up eating or drinking at a 626 Night Market.

The event, created by Taiwanese American Jonny Hwang in 2012, was inspired by the varied after-dark marketplaces that thrive throughout Asia and named for the area code of the heavily Asian San Gabriel Valley. But it’s not just traditional street food. It’s also a sort of snack lab, full of hybrids and experiments (though not so full of places to sit down). On my last visit — to a mini spring version of the market in Santa Monica — I wound up trying macadamia nut ice-brew coffee, which nicely washed down the bulgogi dumpling from a stand nearby. The pho tacos, snorkel-shaped Hawaiian honey cones and red velvet cake infused with red wine? Maybe next time.

In its early years at Arcadia’s Santa Anita racetrack, the market grew to include as many as 250 vendors and 100,000 guests in a long weekend, then paused, shrank and rearranged itself to endure the pandemic.

This year, it happens in Santa Anita on Aug. 5-7, Aug. 12-14, Aug. 23-25 and Aug. 30-Sept. 1. The hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 at the door, $5.77 in advance, parking free.

The market will also be in Costa Mesa’s O.C. Fair & Event Center on May 31-June 2, June 7-9 and Sept. 6-8. Hours and admission prices are the same. Parking is $12.

BTW: There are also April, May and July events in San Diego and Alameda counties.
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